PPD's and drug cases top dockets as American Samoa courts remain in session
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A woman arrested for disturbing the peace at her grandmother’s home in Nuuuli last month is now facing felony charges, after police found out that she has an active arrest warrant from two years ago where she forged a signature on a business check belonging to her mother and cashed it at an Asian store.
Vanessa Annesley made her initial appearance in District Court two weeks ago. She was charged with two counts of forgery and one count of fraudulent use of a credit device, both class C felonies, punishable by imprisonment for up to 7 years, a $5,000 fine of both.
Judge Elvis P. Patea set bail at $5,000.
Preliminary examination is set for Thursday this week, Apr. 8th at 9a.m.
Investigation disclosed that on March14, 2020 aroung 9p.m, Annesley’s sister called the Tafuna Substation to report the defendant was causing a scene at their residence in Nuuuli — yelling and screaming profanities.
Police officers responded to the call and met up with the woman who called for assistance in front of their house where she was holding the defendant.
The woman who called police stated that around 8:37p.m, the defendant came inside the house went straight in the bathroom and locked herself inside. She told the defendant that she was going to call the police, and the defendant then came out of the bathroom, and laid on the bed.
The sister slapped the defendant on the leg and told her that she needed to leave, but the defendant kicked her sister and then made threatening remarks to her by saying that if she stood up she would kill her.
Police immediately apprehended the defendant and transported her to the Tafuna Substation for questioning.
When the defendant’s name was entered into the system, information revealed that she had an active arrest warrant from a case that allegedly happened two years ago.
According to government, it was on Apr. 7, 2018 when the owner of the T.M Supermarket in Pago Pago contacted the Central Police Station for help regarding a check in the amount of $500 endorsed by Vanessa Annesley (defendant in this matter) that bounced when he tried to deposit it into his business account.
According to the business owner, he went to deposit the check from Emelio’s Restaurant made out to the defendant on Mar. 7, 2018 and signed by the owner of Emelio’s Restaurant. He was told by a teller at the ANZ Bank that the check was unauthorized and to check with the check’s originator.
The business man contacted the owner of the restaurant and explained the situation to her, and the owner or the Restaurant responded by saying that she did not have an employee named Vanessa Annesley. The owner of the restaurant further stated to the business owner that Annesley was her daughter.
Police interviewed the restaurant owner regarding the check, and she stated to police that she was aware of the check and she had reported back in March 2018, that her daughter (defendant) had stolen checks from her.
The owner of the restaurant further stated to police that the defendant had endorsed the check without her knowledge. She also said that she was unaware of the defendant’s whereabouts.
It was also discovered that the defendant had forged another check from her mother’s restaurant and cashed at the TSM grocery in the amount of $300.13 on Mar. 5, 2018.
A former high school teacher who is on probation for a drug conviction after giving marijuana cigarettes to two students to sell on the school campus in 2018 is now back in court for a probation violation.
Probationer, Molieletise Salu appeared in High Court last week for his preliminary examination after testing positive with methamphetamine while he was in custody.
A report by the Probation Office revealed that Salu was arrested at the beginning of last month, March 2020 after he failed to comply with conditions of his 5-year probation given out by the court in December of 2018.
Two weeks after he was taken into custody, a probation officer administered a random urinalysis test on the defendant on Mar. 16, 2020. The urinalysis test result was positive for methamphetamine. Furthermore, the defendant also admitted to Probation that he allegedly smoked meth while in custody.
Last week, the defendant’s defense attorney, Rob McNeill told the court that his client admitted to violating conditions of his probation by testing positive for meth. McNeill further stated to the court that his client is remorseful for his action and asked for another chance.
Despite the fact that Salu admitted to the violation, McNeill said that his client would abide with court order if he’s given one more chance. The request by the defense attorney did not sit well with Judge Elvis P. Patea.
According to Judge Patea, who sit as an Acting Associate Justice during Salu’s sentencing in December of 2018, Salu was given a huge break by the court when he appeared for sentencing.
Despite the seriousness of his actions, the court gave him a chance to redeem himself by sentencing him to time served, which was over 12 months. The remaining 8 months of his 20 months period of detention was stayed by the court.
Salu is scheduled to appear in court next week for his Disposition Hearing.
Salu, a Samoa citizen who came to American Samoa in 2012 was originally charged with one count of unlawful possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, a felony punishable by not less than five or more than ten years in jail, and a fine of not more than $20,000. However in a plea agreement with the government, he pled guilty to the amended charged of unlawful possession of marijuana.
Salu admits that on Nov. 1, 2018, he gave 4 marijuana joints to a Fagaitua HS student to sell to other people including students.
Patea sentenced Salu to 5 years probation on the condition that he serve 20 months at the TCF without release, and he was credited for time served, which was over 12 months. The remaining 8 months was stayed based on his good behavior.
Upon release, he has to immediately depart the territory and stay away for the remaining period of probation. However, the court stayed that condition, based on Salu’s good behavior.
“You’re not going to depart the territory and go back to Samoa; however, if you fail to comply with conditions of your probation, the court will revisit this condition in the future. So, don’t take advantage of the many chances you have had, but use them,” Patea told Salu at the time.
One of the two men accused of unlawful possession of illegal drugs during a traffic stop in Faganeanea on Nov. 12, 2018 has entered into a plea agreement with the government.
Ronald Willie, 42 appeared in court last week for his Change of Plea hearing. Willie was initially charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine; one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, both felonies punishable by not less than five or more than ten years in jail, and a fine of not more than $20,000.
However in a plea agreement with the government, accepted by the court, Willie pled guilty to the amended charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. By his plea, Willie admits that on the early morning of Nov. 12, 2018 while he was inside a vehicle, police found two small baggies containing methamphetamine in his possession.
As part of the agreement between Willie and the government, the defendant agreed that he would testify truthfully for the government in the trial of his co-defendant Apelu Foga’a.
Willie further admited that on the day in question, he was riding with Foga’a inside Fogaa’s black pickup truck heading to Malaeloa when police officers pulled over their vehicle in Malaeimi for a traffic violation.
During the search, police discovered a blue bag sitting in the back seat of the truck with drugs and paraphernalia inside. According to Willie, the blue bag belonged to Foga’a.
Sentencing is set at May 22nd.